Category Archives: Authenticity

On Authenticity, Hillary Clinton, and Ben Carson

I do understand how people question Hillary’s authenticity. Her answers do not sound like they come from a marriage of her heart and her head. They sound like answers from her head only, her political head, which weighs expediency and poll numbers and produces a well-rehearsed sound bite. She is an authentic person who seems phony.

In order to appreciate Hillary you have to review what she has tried to do, what she has done, and what she wants to do. She is a person whose actions speak louder than her words. I saw how nervous she was when she went to China to speak about women’s rights. She entered the jaws of the authoritarian dragon, a society dominated by men for centuries and she spoke to Chinese women. Everyone at that meeting must have felt that there could be repercussions. She has met with women and girls on almost every continent trying to raise awareness of antiquated misogynistic traditions that keep women powerless. She has worked with groups offering micro loans to women who turn a small business into progress, family by family.

If Hillary has done all of this without being President it is fairly easy to believe that, whatever problems she has with sounding authentic, she will faithfully strive to determine what the American people need, to listen to what the American people want, and to make sure to accomplish as much of her agenda, an agenda that while it is somewhat left of center is in no way extreme, and which she believes is our agenda. She tells us that she would like to win bipartisan support, but I am certain that if she cannot move the other party, she will still work to make a strong America.

On the other hand, everyone talks about how authentic Ben Carson sounds. He talks in a calm manner and argues persuasively, if laconically, offering statements that seem both rational and heartfelt. Even when he says outrageous things he quietly and pedantically accuses us of misunderstanding him and of giving his words more drama then intended.

Sunday (10/25/15) on Meet the Press he was questioned about his statement that if the Jews had guns then Hitler would not have been able to round them up and kill them. He, without changing his laid back tone, blows off those who see this as anti-Semitic and says there is no double meaning. (Somehow I cannot see Hillary ever making such a comparison to begin with and I have difficulty seeing that as a bad thing.)

Ben Carson also said that he sees those who fight abortion as being brave activists like the abolitionists who fought slavery. Yet I cannot agree to this analogy. Slaves were snatched from their families as adults and turned into the property of a usually white owner. They were fully formed people with lives and rituals and wives and children. Unborn babies begin as clumps of cells. They have no foothold yet in the world. I believe that those who defend the rights of women to control their own reproductive health are much more similar to those who fought against slavery. And why does Ben Carson go to these extreme analogies except to get attention and display his contempt for our petty powers of reasoning.

The problem is that when Ben Carson tells what he wants to do as President, the American people do not seem to enter into the equation anywhere. He says that he believes all abortion is wrong. He will be the final arbiter. He will overturn Roe v Wade. We could assume that he is a moral authority but there is no proof of that. He does not speak of our government as a democracy. He does not mention the wishes or the needs of the people. He may sound authentic to some but to me he sounds arrogant, a leader for a much more authoritarian nation than ours.

Perhaps Hillary has some areas where her own values will not permit her to follow the majority but I am guessing that Hillary mostly wants an America that offers all its people a comfortable life with opportunities for individual growth and for our nation to prosper. So while she may strike some as phony, her actions and her hopes make her anything but inauthentic.

I would say that exactly the opposite is true of Ben Carson, who speaks softly but has a burning desire to teach the bad, bad American people a lesson, which, one on one, might involve a switch from a willow and a closed room. What good is it to be authentic, if you are authentically wrong?

By Nancy Brisson